Tuesday, 16 June 2009

"We'll make spears, twice as long as a man...."

We've had a bit of a revival in Fiore spear work recently in our group. Not sure why exactly. perhaps it's just that the spears are available at our summer training venue. We've got three so I made three more over the weekend, just for fun.

I got the shafts at the local hardware shop. I wish I could get ash but I have to make do with birch (2.4m length, 28mm diameter). These I cut to 1.8 m length. I used what I call pool noodles as the spear "heads". These are 180 cm long dense foam rubber tubes of approx. 15 cm diameter used as fun floats for kids in swimming pools. Using a carpet knife i cut heads of 15-20 cm long and drilled a hole using a hole cutter. To help keep the head in place, I drilled a hole crosswise through the spear shaft and added som wood glue to the hole. Making smaller holes in the foam and aligning them with those in the shaft, I pushed 6mm wooden dowels in each side and hammered them in so that they lay below the surface of the foam. The final touch was to tape the foam head onto the shaft using heavy duty black duct tape. I also made several turns of this tape down the shaft to give some protection to the wood. Finally, I added a cable tie, immediately under the spear head, to further fix it in place. This was probably overkill though as the duct tape is very strong.

I also tried using sisal string binding on the shafts of one of the spears. My binding skills are not great and I tried several attempts beforehand on the offcut wooden pieces to see which held best. The first was just bound on as is. The second was soaked in water first, the excess water removed, bound, and left to dry. The third version was bound on dry and then wood glue added to help bond the strings together.

Overall, the dry binding did not hold well, as it easily rotated and slipped on the shaft. The sisal string I had was quite uneven, which didn't help. The wet version held better, but once completely dry it also showed some signds of slippage. The glued version held best and this was finally used on the third spear. In hindsight, perhaps a wet binding allowed to dry, followed by an application of proper glue or varnish would be best. For the effort put in, as interesting as it was, the duct tape is the fastest, easiest and cheapest option.

And so to training!

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